I once took one of those business simulation courses. In it, we were given a computer terminal, an inbox, and a walkie-talkie. Our simulated company, Acme Widget, was said to be in trouble, and the point of the exercise was to evaluate our crisis management skills. There was a team of psychologists who were looking for leadership and other soft skills that might help us do well during a pressure-filled day.

The fellow who had been chosen as simulated CEO of our team was an up-and-coming executive in a Fortune 100 company. He was clearly acting as CEO in the exercise because his company had indicated he had so much potential.

The psychologists asked the “CEO” to give his motivational speech as the simulation began.

The CEO said, “Our job is to grow revenue faster than expense. Now get to work!”

That was it.

Would it surprise you to hear that Acme Widgets did not survive the simulated crisis? The emails flew, the disasters proliferated, and the team fell apart. I thought then, and I still believe, that the CEO’s speech could have made a big difference in how our team performed.

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